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Hearken back to a simpler time—the pandemic—and join Mira, a classical violinist, and Beckett, a folk music academic, as they escape their Brooklyn apartment and head to a hootenanny in Georgia. Along the way, Mira, who is biracial (one parent white and one of Korean descent), reveals to Beckett that her estranged grandfather lives in Appalachia, and they stop off for a visit that just might heal old wounds. 

The Porch on Windy Hill
Through 5/14: Wed 1 and 7:30 PM, Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 2:30 and 8 PM, Sun 2:30 PM; relaxed/sensory sensitivity performance Wed 5/3 7:30 PM; open captions and ASL interpretation Fri 5/5; open captions, audio description, and touch tour Sat 5/6 2:30 PM; North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, 847-673-6300, northlight.org, $30-$89 (students $15 any performance, pending availability)

The Porch on Windy Hill, conceived and directed by Sherry Lutken, is a delight from beginning to end, featuring an outstanding cast of three who cowrote the play and also perform some of the finest foot-stomping bluegrass music this side of the Des Plaines river. Lisa Helmi Johanson as Mira explodes with energy and a jaw-dropping singing voice, ably alternating between classical playing and fiddling. Morgan Morse as Beckett is as funny as he is talented, picking up a storm on a variety of stringed instruments. And David M. Lutken as Edgar, Mira’s grandfather, is a remarkable musician, singer, and actor, anchoring the entire show. Kudos also to Mara Zinky for creating an incredible set that is a character in itself, reflecting the nature of change, dynamic or static, examined in the play. 

The first half is a light music-filled reconnection, while the second half gets to the reasons why Edgar is estranged and Mira’s unresolved hurt. There are no deep insights or surprises, and sadly the responsibility to initiate reconciliation comes from the one minority character wronged rather than the person who should be making amends. However, the play is so well written and performed, and the music so enjoyable, you can almost forgive this omission of accountability.

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